Updated: Jan 18, 2020
When I tell people I am plant-based, one of the first questions I'm asked is "How do you get enough protein?" For some reason, people are under the impression that protein is not in fruits and vegetables. They think the only way to get protein is to eat meat. They are sadly mistaken!
Protein is one of the macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats are the others) and it is important to get enough. Protein is primarily used to build and repair tissue. But if you are under stress or if your carbohydrates are low, protein can also be used for energy. (Source: Total Fitness and Wellness 5th edition, by Scott K. Powers and Stephen L. Dodd)
It turns out, if you are relying on meat as your main source of protein, then you are at a higher risk for gut health issues. A 2010 study compared the gut bacteria of children in a rural area in Burkina Faso in Africa to the gut bacteria of Italian children. The Italian children ate more meat, while the children in Burkina Faso consumed high fiber diets, as well as more pea protein.
The researchers found that the children in Burkina Faso had more good gut bacteria that they associated with lower inflammation, while the Italian children had more bacteria associated with inflammation and disease. (Source: Medical News Today) When our gut bacteria is healthy, so is the rest of our body.
How do you know if your gut bacteria is not healthy? If you are experiencing bloating, gas, constipation, fatigue, moodiness, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain, your gut is unhealthy.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist teaching others how to overcome their embarrassing symptoms so they can stop suffering and start living.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
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Now, back to protein. One question you may have is much protein should we eat every day? According to Healthline, a sedentary woman should eat 46 grams and a sedentary man should eat 56 grams per day. But I know many of my readers are active people, doing their best to move their body every day.
When you are active, you need more protein. The formula Healthline shares is 0.5-0.65 grams per pound. That means I would need up to 64 grams per day since I exercise 5 days a week. While that sounds like a lot, it really isn't that hard to achieve. Especially with a plant-based diet.
Many of my favorite vegetables and beans are high in protein. Check it out below:
The great thing about the list above is many of the products can be used as a meat substitute.
I love using beans or portobella mushrooms or crumbled tempeh in place of meat in recipes. These are easy substitutions that will keep meat lovers full. The reason we stay fuller longer when eating plant protein, is because plant proteins can take longer to digest.
Below are vegetarian recipes that are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. About 3 to 4 days a week I eat vegetarian or vegan meals. Sometimes I still use eggs or butter in a recipe, other times I will use a flax egg or vegan butter. The remaining days of the week, I'll eat lean proteins.
Due to our very hectic weekday schedule, I rely on meal prepping to make sure that we eat healthy during the week. I take a couple of hours on the weekend to make breakfast, lunch and one or two dinners that can be simply reheated and eaten.
Below are recipes that can be meal-prepped or made during the week. Each contain plant based protein. If you have a meat-lover in the house, you can always add grilled chicken or fish to satisfy their lifestyle.
I eat overnight oatmeal 3-4 days per week. I find I can do a lot of add-ins that can increase the protein content of the oats. To begin with, steel-cut oats have 5 grams of protein per 1/4 cup of dry oats. The recipe is quite simple:
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (adds about 1 gram of protein for almond milk)
Stir in add-in's (ideas below)
Place in refrigerator overnight. You can either eat it cold with fruit on top or warm it up and put fruit on top. I usually top with frozen blueberries - heated up of course!
1 TBSP Nut Butter - adds 3.4 grams of protein for almond butter
1 TBSP Hemp Seeds - adds 5.3 grams of protein
1 tsp Chia Seeds - adds 1 gram of protein
1 tsp sunflower seeds - adds 1 gram of protein
As you can see, you can easily hit 10 grams of protein in overnight oatmeal for breakfast which is a great start to the day. Especially if you worked out in the morning. Here are more great breakfast ideas that are high in protein. Simply click on the title to go to the recipe.
Lunch can be challenging for many of us because in order to eat healthy, we need to make it ahead of time. That becomes tricky when after work, we come home and have to cook dinner as well as get the rest of the household ready for the next day. But with a little planning, lunch can come together quickly. It may mean prepping on the weekend but the results will be worth it. Click on the links below to go to the recipes:
Getting everyone in the house to agree to a vegetarian dinner may be difficult. But start off slowly. Do one dinner a week for 4-6 weeks. Then add a second dinner every other week. Before you know it, it will be so routine that everyone in the house will not notice! It only takes 21 days to create a habit (good or bad). Click on the links below to go to the recipes:
I hope you are inspired to eat more plant-based foods after learning you can get plenty of protein from vegetables. If you try any of the above, let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment below. I love hearing how the recipes I share turned out for you.
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